I recently graduated with my degree. I haven't been able to find work in my field yet and have been doing various things to make money. I contacted a marketing agency/staffing agency that offered to put me on their roster.

  1. The nature of their jobs is short term/temporary and is not guaranteed
  2. The type of work would be along the lines of working at retail stores
  3. The company is in the US and I am Canada and would be working here

There's a term in the contract that concerns me because I plan on working for myself or other employers. Even if I didn't I'm curious if a company could really own everything you invent no matter what.

Inventions. Employee recognizes and acknowledges that during the Term of this Offer, Employee may either individually or jointly with others, and either on behalf of Joe Marketing or on Employee’s own volition, discover, conceive, make, perfect, or develop inventions, improvements, discoveries, models, designs, images, logos, customer lists or other databases, marketing plans or methods, prototypes, trade secrets, computer programs, ideas, techniques and know-how that are related to or in furtherance of the business or activities of Joe Marketing (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Inventions”). Employee recognizes and agrees that any and all Inventions developed by Employee pursuant to this Offer shall be deemed to be a “work made for hire” to the extent allowed by law. Employee further recognizes and agrees that any and all Inventions, including all intellectual property rights, that Employee might have therein (the “Intellectual Property Rights”), are the sole and exclusive property of Joe Marketing. Employee hereby assigns to Joe Marketing all of Employee’s rights, title and interest in and to any and all Inventions and related Intellectual Property Rights. Employee’s obligations under this Section 7 apply without regard to whether the Invention or an idea for an Invention, or the design, discovery, conception, production, perfection, development or improvement of an Invention, or the solution to a problem occurs to Employee on the job, at home, or elsewhere. At Joe Marketing’s request, from time to time, Employee shall promptly sign and deliver all documents necessary to vest in Joe Marketing all of Employee’s right, title and interest documents necessary to vest in Joe Marketing all of Employee’s right, title and interest in and to such Inventions.

Is it possible for a company to claim ownership of an invention an employee/contractor made while off the clock? What if the invention has nothing to do with the work the employee does, or the field the company is involved in?

closed as off-topic by Borgh, Dan Pichelman, David K, gnat, Dan Mar 7 at 15:56

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  • 6
    Hi! Welcome to this site. I think this question would be better at home on our sistersite Law: law.stackexchange.com – Borgh Mar 7 at 15:09
  • 4
    They only appear to be claiming ownership of things which are related to or in furtherance of the business or activities of Joe Marketing. So if Joe is in the business of selling newspaper subscriptions and you invent a new ice-cream scoop it looks like you'd be safe. – brhans Mar 7 at 15:16
  • It's a good idea to consult legal help with a lawyer when you are unsure of terms on a contract rather than listening to people online who you do not know the credentials of. Once you sign it, regardless of whether or not they can enforce it won't look good for you. – Dan Mar 7 at 15:54
  • quotes.net/mquote/935509 – tomdemaine Mar 7 at 16:09
  • “all Inventions developed by Employee pursuant to this Offer shall be deemed to be a “work made for hire” to the extent allowed by law.” - pursuant to this offer and to the extent allows by law are the key phrases in that clause. I am no lawyer, but work unrelated to the contract work, isn’t pursuant to the contract itself and thus isn’t included in the terms of the contract allowed by law. – Ramhound Mar 8 at 12:33

I've had this exact thing happen. The employee agreement in question had a very similar provision to that given here. At that time, I was a semi-professional musician with a small collection of copyrighted songs and albums. My solution was to hire a lawyer to craft what's known as a safe-harbor provision to protect my existing and future artistic creations. I added this to my copy of the employment contract and signed it. The company's legal department did not respond - They simply approved the amended contract, and I had my legal rights (and peace of mind) protected.


Yes, many employment contracts stipulate that any Intellectual Property you create (even off the clock) 'belongs' to the company. The general term is Proprietary Information and Inventions Assignment

It is state specific, but generally, the IP has to be related to your job for the company to have a real claim to it. If you are employed as a computer programmer, the company wouldn't have IP rights on your side business making jewelry.

I understand your concern about nights and weekends work, but there may be another clause in your contract that prevents you from working for other companies period.

This comes into play most often when an employee either creates a directly competing product or creates an add-on project for the employer's product and then tries to sell.

EDIT: As GenericMVCProgrammer, you can likely add a safe harbor provision to your contract.

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